Public Safety Blotter Articles

Pittsburgh Police and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Investigation into Animal Cruelty Results in Charges

Date: March 22, 2021
Incident Type:
Location: Zone 2

An investigation by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture into allegations of animal cruelty has resulted in criminal charges against four individuals and a company. 

On Friday, November 26, 2020, a woman was driving in the area of Grant Street, Forbes Avenue, and Fifth Avenue downtown when she noticed approximately 10 dead or dying pigeons on the street and sidewalk and first reported it to Animal Care and Control.  

Police began interviewing people and investigating a commercial contract between Bird Control Services of Wernersville, PA and management of the Frick Building to chemically control the bird population on and around the property, located at 437 Grant Street in Pittsburgh. 

As a result, arrest warrants have been issued for the following: 

  • Allen Zimmerman - owner of Bird Control Services
  • Randall Hoffmaster - employee of Bird Control Services -
  • Colleen Derbish AKA Kelly Derbish - On-site Manager of the Frick Building
  • Francisco Escalante- Manager of the Frick Building -
  • Bird Control Services  

These individuals and the corporate entity, Bird Control Services, face the following charges: 

3 counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals - F3 

3 counts of Cruelty to Animals - M2 

3 counts of Cruelty to Animals - Summary offense 

3 counts of city ordinance - 636.06 - Prohibiting the capture and harm of any wild birds 

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Officer, Christine Luffey, was the principal investigator in this case. 

"What we really want people to learn from this is that there are other, non-lethal and effective ways to deter birds from roosting on properties. We really want to educate people so that wild birds or other innocent animals are not put in danger," said Officer Luffey. 

"This was an unfortunate way to control the wild bird population in an urban center. Other wild animals or domesticated pets being walked downtown could have easily ingested this poison with tragic results," Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.

"I'd like to thank Officer Luffey, as well as Humane Action Pittsburgh, who helped write the legislation prohibiting the capture and harm of any wild bird."

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police would also like to thank the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Assistant District Attorney Lisa Borrelli, and David Madden with Animal Care and Control for their assistance with this case.  


Reporting PIO:
Cara Cruz